In 2018, sociologist Enrique Gómez conducted research into the social situation of people from Senegal engaged in street selling. Coordinated by the church's Caritas charity, this involved 139 questionnaires and numerous face-to-face interviews.
Barbara Picornell of the Caritas social action unit says that one of the main conclusions was that Senegalese people who come to Spain do so because their lives in Senegal are "unpromising". Their "non-regulated" status in Spain, she adds, means they are highly vulnerable and unprotected.
Gómez adds that the greatest problems they face in European countries are police persecution, lack of respect, and discrimination. The majority (70%) are aged between 25 and 40 and mostly all of them have family responsibilities. Six per cent of people who move from Senegal choose to come to Majorca. Seven out of ten of them work as street sellers, three-quarters of them illegally.
Nearly all of the immigrants (96%) share accommodation. There can be as many as eight people in the same flat. This "critical condition" is due to their not earning enough.
Most money is obviously made in summer, but the research indicates that 72% of the immigrants are involved in street selling all year. Half of them have been fined at some time or another. Only three per cent have been arrested, while ten per cent say that they have suffered some form of discrimination.
Babacar Diakhate was once an illegal street seller. He has managed to move on from that life. It started in 2009. "Everyone knew that in Africa there was no future." He flew to Spain, came to Majorca and started to look for work. His dream was shattered within a couple of months. He had studied law and marketing in Senegal, but he felt "deceived". "I wasn't given any opportunity and had to look for an alternative."
He ended up in Arenal selling sunglasses illegally. He recalls that time with bitterness. "No Senegalese comes with the idea of working as a street seller."